MILLEDGEVILLE — The Baldwin County community will soon rejoice in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by completing numerous service projects in line with the “day on, not a day off” mantra.
Communities In Schools of Milledgeville-Baldwin County (CISMBC), Georgia College’s Institutional Equity and Diversity department and The GIVE Center are planning service action all MLK Day, Monday, Jan. 20.
This day mark the 30th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. The milestone is a perfect opportunity for Americans to honor Dr. King’s legacy through service.
It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.
The MLK Day of Service is a way to transform King’s teachings into community action. That service may meet a tangible need, or it may meet a need of the spirit.
The national Day of Service will begin with volunteers beautifying local school grounds from 9 a.m. to noon. Last year, Eagle Ridge Elementary School benefited from the Communities In Schools AmeriCorps Tutor Program partnering with Georgia Power Company and Georgia College Gamma Sigma Sigma students.
Volunteers completed various projects, including picking up trash, trimming shrubs, painting 12 bathrooms, sanding and painting outside railings and checking power throughout the building.
CISMBC Executive Director Sandy Baxter said between Georgia Power and the Chamber of Commerce commitment in 2013 the MLK Day effort also raised some new basketball goals.
Baxter said the work starts the day off right and she expects several other Baldwin County schools to benefit in 2014. People are then free to observe the other events for Martin Luther King Day.
“One of the things (King) was good at was encouraging people to serve,” Baxter said. “A tribute to him is the slogan ‘A day on, not a day off’. We look at service as an excellent way to pay tribute to a hero and provide help for others. Working in the schools provides help to all the citizens of Baldwin County.”
This year the MLK Planning Committee has numerous events commencing after the work at county schools including a noon commemorative march from Huley Park to Flagg Chapel Baptist Church.
“It’s in remembrance of all the civil rights leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who came before us,” Emmanuel Little, chair of the MLK planning committee, said.
At 1 p.m., Flagg Chapel hosts the annual MLK Tribute Service. A community cookout at Huley Park featuring food, music, vendors and fellowship follows at 3 p.m.
A “Conversations to Action” discussion panel will convene at this time to discuss community and social issues related to the topics of social, racial, religion and economics.
“It’s kind of a full day, but we hope it allows people to get out and interact with people in the community whether through community service or fellowship or if nothing else to realize how important it is to further Dr. King’s cause for social justice,” Little said.
Baxter said CISMBC and Georgia College are closely coordinating their efforts for Jan. 20. Having the community join hands to improve local surroundings aligns with Dr. King’s message.
“We can all lead by example working together. I think that is one of the best lessons you can give is to take action, and let others see we are working together to better our community,” Baxter said. “His dream was for his children to have a better life. That’s what most parents dream is for their children to have it better than them. Working together on that day provides that us that opportunity.”
GIVE Center Director Kendall Stiles conducts the MLK Day volunteer gathering efforts.
She knows students and citizens can’t do everything but encourages some action to make a difference.
“It’s an important day. Individuals in not just our community but others as well should honor Dr. King. It’s done in different ways for different people,” Stiles said. “People have to figure out what part of the day would you like to do to honor him. Our goal is to get as many people in the community as well as all the college and high school students involved in that day.”
The GIVE Center director wants Baldwin County to look at this as another opportunity to give back “because we have so many issues in our community.”
“Take it as a day to reflect and find out what it means to be a community member in Baldwin County. If you look around the community, we have the need everyday. This is a good way to jump start the year and pledge that you’d like to give back,” Stiles said.
Generating year round service and community commitment is a goal of MLK Day.
“A lot of people only think about social justice and community service on this holiday,” Little said. “That’s great, but the most important work is done the other 364 days out of the year. Regardless of what your background, talents or interests are, there is a huge amount of things that any individual can do to empower and uplift their community. You have to train yourself to remain engaged.”
Those with volunteer questions should call Stiles at 478-445-5936.
Also, follow the volunteer link at orgsync.com/16473/forms/92794 to sign up.
Those wanting to join in one or all of the events can also call CISMBC at 478-452-3408 and GC’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity at 478-445-4233.
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